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Chestnut Road by Russian For Fish. Photography by Peter Landers.
22nd August 2017

Russian for Fish: Chestnut Road

Award-winning London-based architectural and design practice Russian for Fish is no stranger to renovating period properties. Its latest project – a kitchen extension for an Edwardian five-bed in South London – transforms a cramped kitchen into an open-plan family hub that glides out into the garden.

When renovating period properties, balancing old and new is difficult at the best of times. Edwardian houses, while packed with quirky features that immediately make somewhere radiate homeliness, lack the open, functional spaces, spaces that modern families need. This is especially true of kitchens. When tasked with renovating an Edwardian five-bed on West Norwood’s Chestnut Road, Russian for Fish found a kitchen that was small, dark and somewhat isolated from the rest of the ground floor – a far cry from the welcoming family hearth that the homeowners craved. Its owners tasked the award-winning practice with remodelling the space to improve flow from the rest of the house and opening it up to the adjacent garden. All of this needed to be done without significant (and expensive) structural alterations – quite the challenge.

Chestnut Road by Russian For Fish. Photography by Peter Landers.
As with all of its projects, Russian for Fish collaborated heavily with the clients to craft a proposal that realised their vision. Given the delicate balance between old and new needed for this project, its owners couldn’t be better suited to assist – one worked for the heritage industry and, naturally, had an interest in preserving the Edwardian character of the house whereas the other, a financial advisor, favoured the modern and minimalist. “Russian for Fish came up with some really inspirational ideas and challenged us to be brave,” says client Louise Fuller. “Yet they really listened to the brief so we had what we wanted from a utility perspective but the end result was far more beautiful than we could have imagined.”
Chestnut Road by Russian For Fish. Photography by Peter Landers.
The six-month project involved widening the building’s rear outrigger, using reclaimed brick to match the property’s existing walls, and adding light into the new space with a lengthy skylight. The practice also added storage and a dedicated utility area, as well as renovating several of the house’s bathrooms (including creating a new ensuite) and improving ventilation throughout the building. The kitchen itself is also the perfect blend of old and new. Characterful yet practical, industrial finishes and concrete worktops sit happily next to more traditional elements like white stained-oak parquet and reclaimed tiles.
Chestnut Road by Russian For Fish. Photography by Peter Landers.

Connecting the extension to the existing spaces was always going to be one of the most exciting elements of this project. Accordingly Russian for Fish decided to introduce a large sliding door between the new kitchen and dining area and the original reception room, and echoed it with one of the property’s most dramatic features – a 5m corner window fitted with powder-coated aluminium sliding doors thats connects the dining space to the garden. Russian for Fish co-director, Nilesh Shah says, “We wanted to maximise the connection to the garden and fill the rear of the house with natural light. To create an open corner is structurally quite a challenge, particularly with the added weight of the large skylight above – the slightest miscalculation could cause all the glass to shatter. But, given the impressive effect the doors have, whether open or shut, it was well worth the structural gymnastics!”

For more information on Chestnut Road and Russian for Fish, visit www.russianforfish.com.


Chestnut Road by Russian For Fish. Photography by Peter Landers.
Love Russian For Fish? Read our interview with architect Pereen d’Avoine here.
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